He didn’t listen and took it upon himself to try to buckle himself into the booster seat. Just a few seconds later I heard what sounded like metal hitting glass. Sure enough he had let the seat belt buckle go and it slammed into the window, chipping it. In my anger, I told him, “If you would just listen, things wouldn’t get broken!”
As soon as those words came out of my mouth, I was reminded of all the times I have broken something because I didn’t listen. I specifically remember breaking my parents' trust when I was a teenager by going somewhere they had asked me not to go. As an adult I’ve lost friendships because we didn’t hear each other out. I hurt my husband when I don’t listen to him as we discuss important topics. I don’t think it's ever our intention to hurt others or break relationships. I think we just aren't listening.
The book of Proverbs is well known for talking about wisdom but it seems that listening is the key to gaining that wisdom. In Proverbs 1:5, we see Solomon saying, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” Just a few verses down in verse 8, we see a father telling his son to listen to his instructions. In the very last chapter, Proverbs 31:2, we see King Lemuel tell his son “listen” three different times just in that one verse! For this word to be said so much in the book of Proverbs, it has to be important.
God is like these men we see above asking their family and friends to listen. The difference is God is asking us to listen. Jesus even tells us in Matthew 7:24 that when we listen to his Word, we will be like a man who built his house on a rock. We will not be easily shaken. We could avoid a lot of brokenness if we just turn to God and listen to him.
Friend, maybe you are going through something and are tempted to get advice from your friends, family members or even the internet. Instead, I urge you to turn to God, talk to him and listen. What does that look like? Maybe writing down your cares to Him or listening to worship music in a quiet room by yourself. For me, I sit down and pray that He will speak to me then I open my Bible in a quiet space and dive into His word.
Our lives will reflect what we listen to. Leaning in and listening to God will make our relationship with Him stronger. When our relationship with Him is strong, that strength flows into the rest of our lives— even out to our other relationships, that can be restored by hearing God’s wisdom.
Memory Verse: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24 NIV
That’s how I found myself in the ER, just my son and myself. My mind became filled with the anxiety of “what if...”
What if my baby boy needs emergency surgery?
What if my husband can’t make it to the hospital in time?
What if something goes wrong?
As moms, it’s easy to become anxious when it comes to our kids. Having a piece of ourselves running around outside of our control is not for the faint of heart. Yes, us mamas have worried about our babies since the beginning of time. Even Jesus’s mom, Mary, showed signs of anxiety. The first time the Bible mentions Mary’s worry was when she discovered He was missing, after visiting Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. She had assumed he was in their large traveling caravan— when they got home she discovered she was wrong.
Mary and Joseph made the long trek back to Jerusalem, in search of their young child. After THREE days they finally found him in the Temple. The Temple! When Mary saw him, she asked “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” (Luke 2:48).
Though Mary had moments of anxiety, she had learned to trust 100% in God. Remember when the angel told her, as a virgin, she would become pregnant and give birth to the expected Messiah? She responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” It would have been easy for Mary to become anxious, but she chose to believe the promises of God.
As followers of Christ, there will be times when we become anxious. The good news, friends, is that we don’t have to be slaves to our feelings. In times of stress, we can look to God’s promises. We can remind ourselves that the God we serve is full of unfailing love and faithfulness. I love our memory verse this week, in which Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The answer to our anxiety is being honest about it, and releasing our situations to God.
That day in the ER, the doctor confirmed my worst fears: my son did have to go under the knife that day. I sat there in tears. Even in that valley, God orchestrated the timing, the doctors, the nurses, and every detail with precision. My son was made well, and was able to receive the nutrients he needed.
I love the rhetorical question Jesus asks, in Luke 12:25, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” The obvious answer is none of us can.
Worry is our attempt to control what only God can. The only change it produces is stunting our growth in Him.
Whatever you are anxious about today—whether it be your job, kids, health, or finances— admit your need, and release it to Him. When anxiety rears its ugly head, again and again, keep taking it to the One Who is in control, and growing your trust in Him.
Memory Verse: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
Little did I know this was just the beginning of unexpected challenges. My son wasn’t drinking enough milk, and was having trouble reaching his birth weight.
Every morning I would wake up thinking about my goal of going home. Every day the doctor would check in, and my hopes would be let down.
We experienced roadblock, after roadblock, after roadblock. Why, oh why, couldn’t things just go as planned?
Life is full of detours and roadblocks. I’m sure you’ve experienced similar frustrations at some point in your journey. When I read Ezra’s story, I think this is probably how the Israelites felt while they were working on rebuilding the temple.
In the first chapter of Ezra, God moved the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Israelites to return to their city and begin rebuilding the temple. It was not only a good plan, it was God’s plan. However, they had barely laid the foundation and rebuilt the altar when they began experiencing roadblocks.
The pagans harassed them.
King Antaxerxes ordered them to stop.
The builders became discouraged.
They had hit a complete standstill.
When God saw that his plan had come to a standstill, he sent Haggai and Zachariah to prophesy to them “in the name of the God of Israel who was over them.” The prophets pitched in, helping and supporting them.
This time, nothing was able to stop them. Not even pagan bullies. They finished the building of the temple by keeping their eyes focused on God, not the challenges they encountered along the way.
As obscure as this story may seem from a quick look, I think we all can learn a lesson from this valuable book. No matter what plans we make, or whether our work is good work, or even God work, we will all face setbacks along the way. Jesus said, in John 16:33, that as long as we’re on this side of heaven, we will have trouble in this world. However, he paired it with this promise: “ take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Jesus doesn’t promise a life of rainbows and sunshine, but we overcome our troubles by keeping our eyes fixed on Him.
Friend, what roadblock is frustrating you today? What has discouraged you to the point of quitting? Let us not become discouraged by the things that come against us. Instead, let’s glorify God by persevering.
I was just plain mad at God.
My spiritual drought lasted a year and a half, until I finally came to the end of myself. Eventually I ran out of strength, and turned to God to help me.
Looking back I can clearly see that this drought could have been more fruitful had I leaned on God from the beginning. Just like how in 1 Kings 17, Elijah used a drought to try to turn King Ahab and Israel back to God, and away from their wickedness. King Ahab was, up until that point, the most evil king Israel had ever had. Much of Israel had turned to worshipping Baal, the “god of the sky,” who they believed controlled the weather. So Elijah told King Ahab that there would be no rain for the foreseeable future, except at Elijah’s word.
For three and a half years Elijah prayed to God for no rain, hoping to make Israel and King Ahab realize their “god” was no god at all. God held back the rain, hoping His people would turn back to Him. Instead, the Israelites ran further away.
Elijah called the King and all his false prophets to Mount Carmel for a final showdown. Each side would build an altar, and on each altar would be a bull. Both sides would call to their god and whichever god answered by sending fire would be declared the “real deal.”
After a long day of calling to Baal, the prophets of Ahab gave up. That’s when Elijah stepped in, prepared his sacrifice, covered it with gallons of water, and prayed to the One True God to send down fire.
The fire came, and the people of Israel called out “The Lord — He is God!” Elijah had accomplished what he had set to do. The people returned to the Lord (albeit not for long).
Immediately after the people declared the Lord as their God, Elijah prayed for rain, and it came. The Israelites could have avoided three-and-a-half years of hunger, thirst, sickness and death had they only turned to Him sooner.
Droughts are bound to happen in our lives, but it is how we handle them that will matter. Will we allow God to use them to bring us closer toHim, or will we allow them to drive us from Him?
God allowed the drought for the same reason He allowed the Israelites to wander in the desert: to teach them to fully rely on nothing and no one but Him.
Do you find yourself, today, in the middle of a drought season? Now is the time to lean in to Him.
Don’t allow anger to drive you away, like I did. God used the three and a half year drought in Israel to bring the whole nation back to him. What will you allow him to do through yours today?
Devotionals by Author
All Abby McDonald Angi Morrison Anne Say Audra Powers Breanna Faith Spearman Brenna Kurz Brittany Marlow Caroline Hultgren Courtney Filippin Dana Schaefer Danielle Biddy Debbie Burns Heather Kenny Jannetta Cox Jessica Parker Jess Ridgeway Joan Lavori Katelyn Wilson Katie Gibson Kelly Orlowski Kerri Barfield Keryn Stokes Kristen Williamson Laura Pendley Lindsay McNeely Lonette Baity Martha Rudolph Nancy Ehlinger Renee Robinson Saretta Wells Tara McGill Taylor Watkins Tierney Nashleanas Wendy Gerdes